Rene Brabazon Raymond might not be much of a name, but you have to hand it to this man. He single-handedly set the bar for thriller writing, and also for being awesome. With 90 titles under his moniker of James Hadley Chase, each of them is a guaranteed 3-4 hours of page turning, jaw dropping suspense. I would personally become your butler for a year if you find and show me a page in any of his books that is unimportant.
That said, let the official, impartial review of ‘Want to Stay Alive?’ begin.
We have three major characters to begin with. Chuck, a killer/robber/classic henchman and his girl Meg, the personification of the word ‘dumb’. She has left a perfectly normal family for a life of adventure and crime with Chuck, but hasn’t got the first clue as to what her next step was going to be. Enter the game-changer, Poke Toholo. A Seminole Indian who runs into them by chance as they take shelter in an uninhabited, dilapidated house. Poke shares with them his plan and the formula of success that he has stumbled upon: fear is the key that unlocks wallets. Needless to say, both of our young adventurers are dragged into his plan at the prospect of money, without any idea of how bad things could really get.
They travel to Paradise City, where Poke slowly starts giving form to his plan by killing a number of highly influential people in quick succession under the name of ‘Exterminator’, creating panic in Paradise. The police have virtually no clues, the rich who had treated the city as their own personal backyard are now quivering in their expensive suits, and our heroes are just about ready to start milking the proverbial cow.
Raymond leaves no stones unturned to make this as bumpy a ride for the reader as possible. In a way that is reminiscent of all of his books, we have surprises thrown at us from left, right and centre, till the very end. Coming to the writing, Raymond makes it moderately easy for anyone with a working knowledge of the English knowledge to scrape through without having to look up a dictionary every few minutes. Though his characters, as always, are very two-dimensional. You can put them in any situation under the sun, and they will act in the exact same way. No depth to the character is deemed necessary but he makes up for it in the plot by introducing so many that you won’t be able to remember the intricacies anyway. But whatever he does give you of a character, he makes sure that you understand it to a ‘t’. His love for details is shown in places where he will introduce a character in all of his glory; tell you everything about his life, just to kill him off on the next page.
All in all, this is the perfect read for a long journey or a lazy Sunday afternoon, and for people who are just foraying into the dangerous territory of ‘reading as a habit’. Seriously, pick one up and you’ll be salivating for the next.
Overall Rating: 7/10
If you find the book interesting, buy from Amazon or Flipkart here: